Tuesday, 8 December 2020

EMEC Sector Update


What are the 2 most important attributes a trade union must have if it is to succeed?

1) It has to be able to listen to its members. 

 2) It has to be democratic. 

On Saturday, the National Construction Rank and File met to discuss an offer made by Unite the Union General Secretary, Len McCluskey, of an EMEC sub sector. We can confirm today (07/12/20) this has been rejected again, for the third time. The Rank and File and the EMEC committee would like to send a message to Len McCluskey and the Unite EC. 

 "The Electrical, Mechanical and Engineering Construction membership, who have their own proud history, request a specialised sector specifically for electrical, mechanical and engineering construction workers " 

We have a democratic mandate: 

Every Unite the Union branch that contains a majority of electrical, mechanical and engineering construction in this country has passed motions requesting the formation of the EMEC sector. The motion is also backed by some of the biggest projects in the UK. A full list of supporting branches and projects below. 

On top of that, we are also having an unprecedented response to the open letter. It seems that electrical, mechanical and engineering construction workers want a new sector more than a pay rise but we are planning to get both.

Our members aren’t stupid, they know that to take on the employers and fix the industry we need to be set up to win, currently we believe that we are not. 

Please make sure you sign the open letter on the link to Unite the union requesting the new EMEC sector. 



We are ambitious. We want Unite to be the only specialist electrical, mechanical and engineering construction trade union in the UK. It will create a specific sector on craft or trade lines that is easily recognisable, will strengthen our identity and encourage density. Having this new sector will give us more and much needed scrutiny. We will become faster reacting and be able to combat, more proactively, specific threats and issues affecting our agreements. We believe that the current threats we face, within the NAECI and JIB agreements, need a specific sector and a specific industrial committee with total focus. We need to be able to set up and scrutinise our response to the threats engulfing the NAECI in energy to waste. We want to set up our structures to focus and organise and embrace renewables, wind, wave, and solar farm construction as the government races to meet its UK climate change obligations (climate change act 2008 net zero carbon emissions by 2050 etc). We want to make sure our members have a seat at the table and that our members get decent jobs through training in a sector set to grow. We want to develop strategies which ensure the UK workforce is at the centre of plans to build its energy infrastructure in the UK, from nuclear to energy from waste, ensuring our national agreements come first and our communities prosper. 

After looking at electrical, mechanical and engineering construction trade unions around the world, we have seen what can be achieved. We look to emulate those unions by ensuring that our members are the most skilled workers in the country, with centres of excellence, making sure our welders, erectors, fitters, plumbers ,scaffolders and electricians are trained to the highest of levels. As we develop, we will grow membership, develop training at cost by creating training funds which can be inserted into national agreements. 

 We have unprecedented opportunities ahead but there will also be challenges. We want to make sure our members are ahead of the curve when the revolution in automation takes place, making sure our activists are trained and ready for that will ensure Unite will able to steer automation and not be reacting to it or be a total victim of it. If our brothers and sisters need a just transition, then we need to be ahead of the curve, and excellence in training and industry leading will be vital.

Continuing to develop the electricians licence to practice and the good work which has been done with ECS Check ensuring we have the skilled apprenticeships for the future. We develop high skill sets and eradicate deskilling and unsafe practices. We have to build disciplined strike ready workplaces that will allow us protect our national agreements, grow wages and terms and conditions, build a strong trade union craft identity and tackle rogue employers. 

A servicing trade union has not and will not work with the challenges we will face over the next decade. 

To the current UCATT Sector committees, we hope you can see we are ambitious. What we plan is bigger than the current set up will allow us to grow. Within the current Unite UCATT structures, our voice has been diminished. To diminish our voice and yet then seek to deny us from growing under our own merits and ambition is unacceptable and not trade unionism. Let us set ourselves up to win for workers. We are of course from the same union in struggle, we will still work and collaborate together as we pursue our joint aims as two equally strong sectors of a growing trade union. We ask you not to withhold and impede our ambitions to set up a progressive mechanical and electrical sector fit for the challenges of the next 25 years and the 4th industrial revolution. Becoming a specialist trade union for electrical, mechanical and engineering construction membership will be central to our strategy for growth and we believe with the right strategy, we will be a biggest sector within Unite. The current UCATT sector has made our voice smaller. 

To Len McCluskey This is the 3rd time that the sub sector has been rejected, unanimously each time, and we are urgently asking for your intervention before you sail off into the sunset. When we met you last month you stated you didn't see a problem with it but you didn't think you had the power to get it through the EC Len have faith, you are the general secretary you still have the power and we're asking you to get it done. Today (07/12/20) Tony Seaman, the current EC member for construction, again, contacted Len requesting urgent talks. Speaking earlier he said " We need to get this sorted. We have a clear mandate through the EC election and every branch throughout the UK that has passed motions in support. We also have sites and major projects expecting change. It is about time Unite listens to its members and accepts the democratic mandate from the membership"


Branch resolutions: 

South East Wales Construction Branch biggest mechanical and electrical branch in Wales. 

 The Mechanical & Electrical shop steward and activists Combine. (National committee ) 

Norwich Central Branch Branch L/E 1800 

Liverpool Construction Branch. NW/0541 (in spirit awaiting resolution). 

Manchester EPIU Construction Branch 1400/7 

Glasgow M&E Construction Branch 155/404 

 Leeds GEO/11/Branch

NE 404/18 Middlesbrough Construction Branch

London Construction Branch LE0555 

Site endorsements:

NAECI cat 1 site The Tricoya Trinity Project. (Unite endorsement across entire project). 

Mechanical and electrical workers working on site @ Liverpool metropolitan performing Arts collage. 

MGT all the shop stewards committee r spie MGT (TeesREP Biomass Power Station) 

Balfour Beatty Woolwich Station Crossrail. 

Shanahans on MGT (TeesREP Biomass Power Station) the biggest NAECI job in the UK. 

Balfour Beatty Whitechapel Crossrail (site endorsement ).  

Balfour Beatty Woolwich Crossrail. 

This list is continuing to grow and it's growing fast. The motion is already supported by the vast majority of electrical, mechanical and engineering construction members in this country. Please get involved and ask your work place to support See motion below : This Branch calls for Unite the Union to form a new industrial sector specifically for Electrical Mechanical and Engineering Construction workers in line with rule 7.1 - 7.3 . We believe that the new EMEC sector will be more issue focused faster reacting and more able to fight the specific threats and issues facing the mechanical and electrical workers. As mechanical and electrical workers we have a trade identity and although we work in the construction industry we class ourselves specifically as electrical and mechanical workers with a proud trade union history. We wish for this to be respected. We believe having our own sector will reaffirm our craft identity and will help us grow industrially inside Unite the Union.

Friday, 10 July 2020


We have reported on the struggle faced by the skilled Electrical and Mechanical workers used by JCK on the Vanderlande project at Manchester Airport 


We called off initial protests because of planned talks. MAG (Manchester Airport Group) had all ready silenced ITV’s Granada Report but although one worker described this as “giving JCK a licence to do whatever they want on here now” the workers remained disciplined and held back for talks hoping that their coworkers would be brought back onto the project. 

Talks moved and didn’t happen workers didn’t get invited back while the issues on site grew with a blatant disregard for decency and it became evident the reasons didn’t get brought back. So the protests started.



The talks where back on with a keen interest in the allegations (all proven) the talks described as positive with clear actions set out, after site was given to MAG of evidence showing threats of violence, intimidation and bullying on the project, with parties admitting this was made possible because of the employment models on the project. The urgency has drifted from MAG though and what one Unite official describes as a “worrying separation in direction on the actions” 

With reports from site that the welfare and wellbeing review is being carried out by the bullies themselves, we’re back to the drawing board and will be taking the licence to bully, threaten, endanger and Black workers handed to Contractors by MAG on their projects. 

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Blacklisting at Manchester Airport

Last week, the North West Construction Rank and File postponed a demonstration at Manchester Airport on the promise of meaningful talks with Manchester Airport Group (Client) and Vanderlande (Principal Contractor). It was initially called in response to the way that 70 sparks and fitters were treated by JCK Ltd at the outset of the Covid-19 lockdown.

You can read the background to the story here - LINK

Both Manchester Airport and Vanderlande have broken their promise of meeting Unite the Union and the Construction Rank and File for talks and have fobbed us off all week.  

Only a few days ago, there was a foreseeable incident on site where an Electrician received an electric shock due to the complete lack of electrical isolation procedures being implemented by JCK Ltd. This isn't the first time it has happened on a JCK Ltd airport project. A couple of years ago, the exact same incident happened on a site at Gatwick Airport. You would have thought they would have learnt first time round and brought in the correct procedures. This is not acceptable, construction workers deserve better than this. 

Workers who raised concerns with JCK and Vanderlande prior to the lockdown over Electrical Safety, bullying and Covid-19 have been told that they are not welcome back on site. There is no other word for this, it is blacklisting, and all parties are complicit. 

The silence is deafening and the talks are off. The site is now fully operational with workers being forced to work overtime whilst others are left out in the cold trying to put food on the table. 

The Construction Rank and File have been left with no other option than to take direct action to stand up for those on site and at home. Starting with a demonstration at Manchester Airport on Friday 12th June at 6am, with ongoing weekly actions to follow. 

See you in the morning.   

Thursday, 4 June 2020


Manchester Airport Rank and File demonstration postponed

Last week, the North West Construction Rank and File called for a demonstration at Manchester Airport in response to the disgusting way that 70 sparks and fitters were treated by JCK Limited at the outset of the Covid-19 lockdown and the lack of care given by the client and its share holders.

The Principal Contractor, Vanderlande, closed the Manchester T2 Transformation Project site due to safety concerns over Covid-19 at the end of March and with that, JCK decided to lay off everyone without any notice or support.

After pressure from the National Construction Rank and File, Unite the Union, the Australian ETU and with the issue also featuring on ITV Granada (video below), Manchester Airport yesterday (Wednesday 3rd June) contacted Unite and asked for a meeting to discuss the situation and work out a way forward.

Whilst the Rank and File welcome this development, we must stress that IF there is not a satisfactory outcome from the meeting then the demonstration will be back on.

Frank Morris, National Construction Rank and File member and Unite the Union Executive Council member for Construction said “It has been well known for a while that the Vanderlande site was rife with bullying and precarious employment. Everyone involved in this comes out in a bad light, not just JCK for their attitude and treatment of workers but also Manchester Airport and the Manchester Councils that have acted appallingly with their its nothing to do with us attitude."

Since the project started in 2019, it has gained a name for itself locally as a site where bullying, intimidation and rule by fear are acceptable and the norm. Workers are rarely employed via PAYE with full terms and conditions but engaged through various forms of precarious employment and agencies. One worker was sacked before the lockdown for raising Health and Safety concerns over site practices and Covid-19. A few days later the site was shut by Vanderlande for that very reason.
The most worrying part of this is that nearly 65% of MAG are owned by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester, which are all controlled by the Labour Party with a Labour Mayor. So far, the majority of the group have been unsupportive. 
The ten councils who make up the group are;
•             Bolton
•             Bury
•             Manchester
•             Oldham
•             Rochdale
•             Salford
•             Stockport
•             Thameside
•             Trafford
•             Wigan

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Shut The Sites IWMD Body Bag Protest

At 8:30am this morning, building workers delivered body bags to the London Headquarters of the construction firm MACE . The symbolic action was carried out by the Shut The Sites campaign protesting against the reopening of non-essential construction projects and the watering down of official social distancing advice to allow workers on building sites to work in close proximity for 15 minutes at a time, which they argue will increase transmission of coronavirus and lead to deaths of workers and their family members. Social distancing was applied throughout the protest by the electrician, bricklayer, engineer, carpenter and union safety rep involved.  

The reopening of non-essential construction has caused outrage on the sites and has only been made possible because the official UK government guidelines for the building industry has explicitly watered down social distancing rules. Standard Operating Procedures have been written by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), a body comprising major contractors and chaired by Nadhim Zahawi MP, government minister for Business and Industry. 

MACE were chosen for the protest as Mark Reynolds, MACE CEO sits on the Construction Leadership Council and has reopened non-essential projects including luxury flats, despite originally describing the situation on MACE projects as:

"not compliant with Public Health England requirements... There is no way we can continue with the normal production rates [with] the two metre social distancing requirements” 

There has been an outpouring of anger on social media and the construction trade press, which has almost universally condemned the new guidelines for effectively providing a massive loophole for greedy employers to force workers back onto unsafe building sites. However, because of the long history of victimization and blacklisting those prepared to stand up for safety on building sites, concerned workers are often too scared to complain publicly. An electrician on a MACE project in Central London has been sacked for tweeting about the lack of social distancing on the site.  

A spokesperson for Shut The Sites, Dan Dobson said "Construction workers lives are still being unnecessarily put at risk from the watererd down Construction Leadership Councils 'Site Operating Procedures'. Contractors are already talking about extended site hours with weekend working coming up to bring delayed project back on programme, yet we are still within the Government enforced lockdown with hundreds of thousands of workers on site today. We fear that without a closure of all non critical works and a scheme to pay every worker, we will see a large number of construction workers added to the Covid-19 fatality figures."

An electrician from Manchester, Eddie Current said: "I can't leave my flat to sit on a bench in the local park with my daughter without the police threatening to fine me, at the same time as being forced to work within 2m of other workers for up to 15 minutes at a time without a mask, something isn't right here. I'm putting my families lives at risk every day that I go to site, I can't afford to not go as I have rent to pay, bills to pay and food to buy and I don't qualify for any of the Governments schemes so I have no choice. It's either take the risk or bringing the virus home to my family or risk starving and losing the roof over our heads." 

The MACE bodybag protest is just one of thousands of similar events taking place across the UK and worldwide on Tuesday 28th April as part of International Workers Memorial Day, whose global slogan is: "Mourn the Dead - Fight for the Living"  

For press interviews with the MACE bodybag protest organisers email: ShutTheSites@gmail.com 

For ongoing updates of memorials, protests and direct action taking place today search #IWMD20 #ShutTheSites on social media.

Note to Editors:

A full risk assessment was carried out before the protest which identified potential hazards and control measures were implemented to remove the risk

  • Only 5 workers involved (many more wanted to attend)
  • Event coincided with a trip to buy essential items
  • 2m social distancing at all times
  • Participants arrived by private transport rather than the packed tube 
  • PPE worn
The protest with workers in full PPE could be deemed unlawful. The irony being that thousands of construction workers packed onto building sites across the UK is being actively encouraged by the government.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Shut The Sites Press Release

At 11am Sunday morning, flowers are laid to mourn construction workers who will lose their lives unnecessarily during the coronavirus pandemic. The respectful ceremony took place at the 'Building Worker' bronze statue at Tower Hill, which was commissioned as a memorial for all those who have died on building sites by the construction union UCATT (now a part of UNITE). The symbolic event was to mourn the dead, but also the fight for the living, and was carried out as part of the mass #ShutTheSites movement that has been trending on social media for the past 2 weeks, calling for non-essential building sites to be closed.

A new FaceBook page was launched on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/ShutTheSites/

Shut The Sites issued the following statement:

"The Bronze Bulding Worker statue has for many years been a memorial for workers who have died on construction sites. Flowers have been respectfully laid today to mourn the dead. But in this time of crisis we should also fight to protect the living. None of us want to be here is 6 months time laying a bigger wreath to thousands of construction workers and their family members who may lose their lives unnecessarily. 

If construction workers are building a Nightingale Hospital or carrying out emergency maintenance on vital infrastructure, that's clearly crucial to fight this pandemic. But hundreds of thousands of building workers are being forced to continue working on building sites by greedy developers and employers in order to build luxury flats, hotels and powers stations that will not be completed for at least another 5 years. None of these are essential. 

Construction workers often travel on packed public transport or in shared minibuses, eat together in site canteens, live in huge site accommodation blocks and generally work in close proximity. No building worker in the country believes that construction can continue in any meaningful manner while complying with the 2m social distancing rules. Major contractors also have an appalling track record on health and safety; over decades they have sacked and blacklisted those prepared to stand up for the safety of their fellow workers. By keeping non-essential building sites open, the government and businesses are prioritizing profit above public health. 

No construction worker wants to put their families lives at risk or add more burden to the NHS. The UK government should immediately close all non-essential building sites. But they also need to ensure that every single worker, whether an employee, self-employed or an agency worker, is paid straight away. We need to protect our families, but we also need to put food on the table.

Rather than forcing construction workers to choose whether to protect their families or pay their bills, the government should suspend all mortgage, rent, interest payments and penalty clauses for the next 3 months (as has already been done in Italy) and pay everyone a universal basic income (as has occurred in Hong Kong and is being proposed by the Spanish government)".

#ShutTheSites    #PAYEveryworker     #StayHomeSaveLives

The memorial protest comes at the same time as the government issued new advice that 2m social distancing will no longer need to be strictly applied in the construction industry, but instead recommends that workers are kept two metres apart "as much as possible". This is in stark contrast to guidance from the Scottish Government, which has ordered the closure of all non-essential construction. 

Construction workers have been voicing their opposition to keeping non-essential building sites open on social media and a number of videos from across the UK have been collated and now appear on the attached video. 

Note to Editors:
A full risk assessment was carried out before the protest which identified potential hazards and control measures were implemented to remove the risk
  • Only 2 workers involved to comply with government guidelines (many more wanted to attend)
  • Event coincided with a trip to buy food
  • 2m social distancing at all times
  • Participants arrived by private transport rather than the packed tube 
  • PPE worn
The protest with two construction workers in full PPE could be deemed unlawful. The irony being that thousands of construction workers packed onto building sites across the UK is being actively encouraged by the government.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Coronavirus Exposes Construction’s Bogus Self-Employment

Coronavirus Exposes Construction’s Bogus Self-Employment

Written by Dan Dobson for Tribune and published on 23.03.2020. LINK

More than a million workers in the construction industry are bogusly classified as self-employed. If the government wants them to stay home, it has to extend wage protections to cover them.

When the coronavirus crisis first reared its head, Britain’s government chose to downplay and minimise the scale of the threat. This weekend’s Sunday Times reporting made their unstated motive apparent: “protect the economy.” The flows of capital were not, under any circumstances, be obstructed.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Urgent Message to ALL Unite Construction Workers

 Urgent Message to ALL Unite Construction Workers

Construction Sector EC Elections

This week ballot papers were sent out to all members of Unite the Union. 
The Rank and File met in Glasow earlier this year and voted to back 

 Jimmy Tyson - Joe Pisani - Frank Morris - Tony Seaman
It is vitally important that Construction Members use their vote for the above four. 
We need Rank & File lay member representation at the top table of Unite and with these four candidates we will have that.

If you havent received a ballot paper by Friday 7th April, contact the ballot enquiry service 
on 0800 783 3856
Members who have not received a ballot paper by Friday 7 April 2017 should contact the ballot enquiry service on 0800 783 3856 - See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/about-us/structure/2017-general-secretary-election/#sthash.BcgIu1gB.dpuf
Members who have not received a ballot paper by Friday 7 April 2017 should contact the ballot enquiry service on 0800 783 3856 - See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/about-us/structure/2017-general-secretary-election/#sthash.BcgIu1gB.dpuf

Members who have not received a ballot paper by Friday 7 April 2017 should contact the ballot enquiry service on 0800 783 3856 - See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/about-us/structure/2017-general-secretary-election/#sthash.BcgIu1gB.dpuf


Monday, 31 October 2016

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pitfalls of being Employed By IIS compliant Agencies at Heathrow Airport.

The Pitfalls of being Employed By IIS compliant Agencies at Heathrow Airport

By a Used & Abused Tradesman

I have worked at Heathrow Airport on and off for the past eight years. Over the past four years it has been stipulated that all Trades operative employed under 'Heathrow Capital Projects' are to be directly employed under their industrial agreement, thus banning all self employment.

 The notion and principle of this agreement means that all employed should be able to afford full employment rights and agreed rates of pay under their national agreement. 

 Since this rule was brought in by H.A.L.( Heathrow Airport Limited) an abundance of I.I.S. agencies have
 gained airside clearance and are supplying labour to J.I.B. companies which by far make up the majority or the workforce on most projects. These individuals are directly employed under the auspices of the J.I.B. agreement which should afford those employees the same rights as those whom are directly employed by J.I.B. companies.